Vang Vieng aka Lao Magaluf

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June 4th 2011
Published: June 4th 2011
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We had read about Vang Vieng before we left for travelling, known for its main attraction, tubing. The area is actually quite beautiful but we arrived in a street looking like something out of Magaluf. Full of bars and shops selling the same crap, so touristy and gimmicky it makes you despise the place immediately. The bars and restaurants play seasons of family guy and friends for the “falang” and you will see more tourists than locals. Debbie summarised this area in one sentence “ two bob skeggy market”.

After strolling around we found a guesthouse which was perhaps a little too close to the main street - the lady who owned it asked us if we wanted a balcony overlooking the street. We laughed and paid an extra 10,000 kip to have a room with a balcony overlooking the mountains at the back of the guesthouse.

Later in the afternoon we set of to grab some lunch further down the road and played some pool with the locals. That evening we grabbed some beers and sat in the garden of our guesthouse where we watched tons of tourists in their tuk-tuks arriving late from tubing; drunk and singing songs loudly around 7 pm. It was a bit like closing time in England around 2am but with even less clothing. Bare-chested guys and girl in bikini’s staggering around little fast food stalls trying to get their “drunk food”; some even verbally abusing the locals (“get me my f*****g eggs woman!!”). It was just embarrassing for us to think that the locals would think of us in the same way as those idiots!!

When you start tubing you are taken around 4 KM up the river and you start at that point and end where you paid for the tubing. However a lot of the tourists do not get past the 4th bar which is just a mere 500 metres from when you start tubing and therefore need tuk-tuks to return after closing time which is around 6. They also end up losing their deposit for the tubes and miss out on the scenery (of course this is not why they come!).

So the following morning we set for tubing in order to avoid the louts, there were only two other couples and the rivers were peaceful and drunk free. The first stretch of the river is bordered with bars and staff throw you a rope with a bottle or stick to pull you! Plenty of drinks are available, along with mushrooms and opium (advertised on boards). No wonder at least one person dies here every year. Also there are high platforms with swings/zip lines where people can jump into the river – just watch out for the rocks! We kept floating till the final bar where stopped and grabbed some noodles and a (very early) beer. The owner told us to return at 2pm where it was busy and wondered why we were so early! We carried on for another 40 minutes and got to the end where some little boys pushed our tubes back towards the river bank and we walked our tubes back to the office, getting some rather strange looks from the other tourists.

We booked a minibus for the next morning to take us to Luang Prabang and spent the rest of the day doing pretty much nothing. We again sat and watched the drunk tourists come back sitting on top of tuk-tuks and singing. The locals here are generally grumpy and we don’t blame them, although at the same time they must be making a fortune.

We couldn’t wait to leave this place, we felt old, and at 22 and 23 that’s not supposed to happen is it? All the tourists here look the same, talk the same and generally have no respect for the locals or their culture.

Looking forward to Luang Prabang we got up and ready for our 8.40am minibus and ran down the road to get a baguette for breakfast. We returned and started to think that the minibus was late and then realised our watches had been wrong for the last 3 or so days and it was actually an hour earlier!! Haha!! Good job we were in Laos where time doesn’t really seem to matter anyway. Other passengers on the minibus included a foreign guy who we didn’t see talk once and 3 British guys about 18 or so, clearly hung-over, clearly travelling on daddy’s money, and clearly stuck up their own arses. The journey was not the most enjoyable.

Deb & Ang

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6th June 2011

Being rude to locals is not on, I hate to see this and often see it back home as well at kick out time. Surely you would have realised that Vang Vieng is known for tubing and what it entails. Do you not think at 22 you could have gone at the normal time with everyone else had little drink and some fun? If you actually get chatting to some of the people you have generalized you may find some of them are actually nice people. You never know you might even enjoy it?? I'm 26 and I know I’ll have a right laugh when I get there as I know what to expect. Not every destination on your travels has to be a cultural explosion you get doughy eyed over. You are a loud to have some shameless fun, your 22 after all :D
7th June 2011

Vang Vieng people.
I'm sure some of these people are nice, pre-drinks. Of course we knew about Vang Vieng, but we thought that we could not really form and opinion without seeing the place for ourselves. It was on our way so we stopped by. Don't get us wrong we love to have a drink and have fun. But the whole binge drinking thing is what we did during our teens. Some people grow out of it, some people don't. We like to have fun when we meet people we want to have fun with, not because everyone else is doing it. I'm sure you will love it!

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